Welcome back to the Watercooler. Luckily we’re just four days away from getting some more clarity in the GOP nomination race, or so we can hope.

Town Hall Wars

CNN announced late last week that it would be holding two GOP town halls this week, although there were planned for quite some time. One on Wed. night with Cruz and Rubio and one Thu. night with Trump, Bush and Kasich. In his usual rude form to gain the spotlight, Trump and MSNBC just announced a competing town hall with just Trump on Wed. night. Some think it maybe Joe Scarborough’s way of getting back at CNN since they published several hit pieces on him last week, starting with Joe is for Trump.

The Hispanic Vote

Every since the 2012 RNC autopsy report was published we’ve been told the GOP must make inroads with the Hispanic vote. No dispute there. So you’d think that with two Hispanics running, and hopefully one being the eventual nominee, that we’d make great gains with that elusive voting bloc. Yet a poll taken in Dec. shows that may not be the case (unless they look to Susana Martinez that is):

While poll numbers focused solely on Hispanics are scarce, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from Dec. 14 shows Rubio getting 36 percent of the Hispanic vote compared to Hillary Clinton’s 59 percent.

How is this possible when Rubio speaks Spanish and Cruz is the son of a Cuban-born preacher? Aren’t these factors enough to bring Latinos into the conservative party? [snip]

But ask any Hispanic if Rubio or Cruz is Latino, and you will hear different answers. Latinos will agree that Cruz and Rubio are Hispanic, but they will likely disagree on whether they are Latinos.

So what’s the difference between Hispanics and Latinos?

Hispanics are united by Spanish; Latinos are united by culture. And that’s where the political pundits misjudged the Hispanic voting block.

Meet Mr. Smith

If you’re not familiar with Pat Caddell’s, The Smith Project, you are missing out on what Caddell thinks most voters want and why we’re in what he calls a political revolutionary period. Today he explained further:

“Cruz’s or Trump’s election would be a shock to the system.”

Noting Trump is still “way up” in polls, added Caddell, “As I’ve said, we are in a revolutionary period here. … I think that the evidence is clear now that the public has been, in fact, … the match has been lit. The public has moved. They are in motion. I don’t know where they’re going to go.”

Asked what he meant by “The fuse has been lit,” Caddell elaborated:

We are seeing the transformation of the paradigm of politics. All the old rules are failing. All the old assumptions don’t work. And we have a new set of assumptions evolving. And we have a public that no longer seems to want to eat the dog food that the establishment has dished out and are, in fact, going for choices that are outside the boxes of our ordinary politics.

Kristol’s Ball

And speaking of establishment dog food…

Bill Kristol is absolutely furious with the establishment leaders for not pushing back against the slander that Trump is spewing all over the place. It seems he actually respects Trump for not backing down when the heat is upon him. Weird.

Once upon a time we had leaders who would have expressed their outrage at such a slander. They would have demanded evidence from Trump to back up his charge. Receiving none, they would have denounced and excoriated him. They would have explained to the American people how extraordinarily irresponsible his slander was, and would have done their best to discredit a man who could behave so irresponsibly. They would have pronounced him unfit to be president of the United States, and they would have mobilized their friends, supporters and admirers to ensure so appalling an eventuality didn’t come to pass. They would have been scorned by some for doing so, and they would have worn that scorn as a badge of honor. We apparently no longer live in such a time.

I’m short on time today so will leave it up to the viewers to add more stories and comments on whatever they want. As always, the Watercooler is an openthread where the threadjack rules don’t apply.